Suffolk taxi drivers could face mandatory drugs testing to renew or gain a new licence

Taxi drivers in East Suffolk could soon be required to pass drugs tests to gain or renew a licence if a new council proposal is given the green light.

The decision on the proposal made before East Suffolk Council's (ESC) licensing committee will be decided on Monday 20 January.

According to a report from the council, the licensing authority has suspended or revoked the licences of two hackney carriage and private hire drivers in the past 18 months.

These suspensions follow the arrest of the drivers, in separate incidents, on the roadside by Suffolk Constabulary.

The report also states: 'A Licensing Sub-Committee has also recently imposed a condition on a driver to undergo a drug test before a licence is granted and, in another case, required random drug testing of a driver for a specified period after the granting of their licence.'

The ESC report adds: 'Whilst the numbers of licensed taxi/private hire drivers who have been arrested for drug driving is very small when compared with the overall number of licensed drivers (589), it has to be recognised that occasionally it is brought to the attention of the Licensing Authority that a driver is allegedly prepared to take illegal drugs and drive their vehicles.'

As a result, the council are looking to put new licensing procedure in place that prevents drug users from being granted licences in the first place or having them renewed. The ESC are also keen to detect those drivers who are currently licensed but who use drugs.

The current cost of a drugs test is around £300.

ESC is proposing that new applicants with drug related convictions and applicants with recent drug related convictions seeking to renew their licences will be required to pay for their drug tests to satisfy the Licensing Authority that they are clean.

In circumstances where drug testing is intelligence-led or as a result of a condition on a licence imposed by the Sub-Committee requiring random drug testing of a driver, it is proposed that the Licensing Authority will cover the cost of the drug testing.

Image credit: Pixabay

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